Many people struggle with writing in English, even native speakers. Although we use English to communicate daily, you’d still be surprised by how many people always find it hard to write in English without making mistakes.
Writing in English may sound easy, but eliminating the nuances from writing to get the message across adequately is a challenge for many. So in this article, we will talk about how to improve English writing and impress people with your writing skills.
What are the basic writing skills?
Before improving a skill, you must first know the basics. Here are some of the common basic writing skills that every writer should have.
1. Having your own writing style
Every writer has their own style, tone, and skill to deliver a message in his/her own unusual ways. Picking the right style could be a struggle in the early days of being a writer, but you will eventually find your voice. As time passes by and you gather more experience, you will involuntarily develop your own unique writing style.
How to improve your writing style?
Elevate your writing style with these simple tips:
- Make it simple – Use straightforward language. Not only will this be beneficial for your readers, but it can also lower your margin for error.
- Avoid redundancies – Don’t repeat a word or an idea over and over.
- Avoid excessive qualifications – Occasional use of qualifiers will let the reader know you are reasonable, but using it too often weakens your writing. Avoid too many qualifiers like “sometimes,” “usually,” “I think,” “most,” etc.
- Avoid unnecessary self-reference – Avoid using unnecessary phrases like “I feel,” “I believe,” and “in my opinion.” You don’t always have to remind your reader you are writing based on your opinion.
- Use parallel forms – Parallelism is a writing element that means expressing similar parts of a sentence consistently. The same elements in function should be similar in construction. It also helps build clarity and power.
- Avoid the masculine generic – The masculine generic refers to the sole use of the pronoun he or him when referring to situations involving both genders. Try to avoid using this as much as you can and opt for gender-neutral language, instead.
2. Have a wide vocabulary
Having an extensive vocabulary is an asset of a successful writer. However, annoying readers with complicated and pointless words could drop your readership.
Instead, use intelligently selected words and keep your audience in mind while writing. The vocabulary you use in writing should be based on the type and understanding level of your audience.
How can I write correct English?
Expanding your vocabulary and grammar isn’t the only way to write correct English. If you want to be more accurate with your English writing, then take note of these tips:
- Look up synonyms of words – There are millions of words that have synonyms. Knowing substitutes to certain words can benefit your writing as it reduces the tendency of being redundant.
- Read English grammar books – Just like what you do in school, reading English books can help you learn better English. Find books with activities and exercises to help enhance and correct your grammar, spelling, and vocabulary. You can also go for more advanced versions for better improvement.
- Practice spelling– Knowing how to spell words correctly is also an advantage. You can improve your spelling skills by doing spelling exercises or even playing spelling games online.
3. Expressing your thoughts confidently
You can find a lot of tedious and tasteless content online. Although indeed, making content is not a walk in the park, boring content like these can also result from writers doubting their thoughts. The lack of confidence can make a significant impact on your writing.
Confidence doesn’t always equate to the seriousness of an article or content. As a writer, you can also express your confidence and creativity by presenting your ideas the way you seem fit. Don’t doubt it and just be yourself.
4. Accepting imperfections
Every successful writer will agree that the first drafts are almost dreadful most of the time. There is no perfect first draft. So, even if you are not confident in writing down things perfectly on your first attempt, go on, and spill your thoughts.
Once you finish with your draft, you can later nourish the content by performing final editing and proofreading.
5. Knowing the structure and form of narratives
Knowing the proper writing structure, sentence formation, punctuation, paragraph breaks, and sentence breaks is essential when you’re a writer.
Aside from spelling and grammar, the elements mentioned above creates the foundation for writing. It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to master all of them. The basics are good enough. You can improve this skill later on (which we’ll also help you with, in this article).
How can I improve my English writing skills?
You may or may not have the skills mentioned above. Those skills, along with some improvements, could make you even better if you aspire to be an English writer.
Here are five incredible tips that can help you how to improve English writing skills
1. Read more
Reading regularly is an easy way to start developing an eye for what effective writing looks. Don’t stick to one type of material; try and diversify the stuff you read. You can read novels, news articles, blogs, etc. Pay attention to the sentence structure, word choices, and the flow of the material.
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
2. Get a Writing Partner
If you’re working in a company, there’s a chance someone is also aspiring to become a better writer like you. Although writing is pretty much a solitary activity, much-needed feedback is also necessary to improve.
Try finding a writing partner and help each other to improve with what you do.
3. Practice and try writing exercises
Hone your writing skill by practicing. It almost sounds cliche, but almost everything can be improved through practice. If you’re tired writing articles, novels, and other things, you can still practice by doing writing exercises. Here are some examples you can try.
- Picture story – Grab a magazine or a photo album and choose a random picture. Describe the photo with much detail as you can. Don’t just write what you see. Imagine being in the picture and thinking about what you would feel, smell, or even taste. You can also try using this random image generator or check Pinterest for ideas.
- Story of my life – Think of something you did in the past, like playing the piano or going to school. Write about your experience of this activity. Your writing should start from the past and end in the future.
- How to breathe – Create a “how-to” of something you do every day without thinking. It can be simple things like how to cook eggs, or how to tie your shoelaces. You should try using clear language and organize it by steps.
4. Dissect A writing you admire
Find a handful of recent articles or blog posts you liked and print them out. Next, try to highlight things you liked: some sentences, turns of phrase, even entire paragraphs.
Examine why you wanted these elements. Note them and see if there are any common techniques among your favored reading materials. You can then apply these techniques to your work.
5. Be original
There is no question, plagiarizing somebody else’s work is a big no-no. You don’t have to copy other people’s work just for the sake of sounding better in your written outputs. Remember, your output is mostly based on your thoughts. Don’t be afraid to speak them out.
Be bold. Be original.
What are the five rules of writing?
Part of improving your writing skills is knowing the essential rules. Some rules can be quite specific, and not all of them are created equal. But regardless of what kind of writing you do, here are the five foundational rules of writing that you should know to become a better writer.
1. Avoid overly long sentences and paragraphs
Long sentences aren’t necessarily wrong. But if you’re losing the audience because of it, then it’ll be a problem. When you are writing online, short paragraphs made of one to four sentences are often the best option for your reader to absorb your point quickly. And as a rule of thumb, a sentence should not have more than 10-15 words.
How can I improve my English paragraph?
- Use transition words – Use a variety of transition words like next, in addition, therefore, for example, to prompt your readers with the relationships between your ideas.
- Explain the relationships of ideas – Aside from using transition words, you could also explain the connection between your ideas. For example, at the end of your first supporting paragraph, you could discuss how that idea leads to the next body paragraph.
- Start with a topic sentence – Start your supporting paragraphs with a topic sentence. This sentence introduces the ideas that you’re going to discuss in that paragraph.
- Organize your paragraphs – Decide on which order should you present your ideas shown in each section. It’s best if you arrange them logically in a way they’re building off of each other but is still coherent.
2. The sentences should make a clear statement
Vagueness isn’t a great thing when it comes to writing. That is why your sentences should be clear and coherent with the previous sentences in your writing. Every sentence should state a clear thought and not written unnecessarily.
3. Use adverbs sparingly
Verbs are your power words, so let it do the lifting. Avoid using lightweight descriptors like adverbs so that your sentences won’t feel bland. Use precise words like “sprinted” or “dashed” instead of “ran quickly.”
4. Write in the active voice
Use an active voice whenever possible. Active voice means the subject is doing the verb. Thus, making it more direct and concise.
However, there are some cases where the doer isn’t necessarily needed, and using the passive voice is a better choice. Here’s an example: “This building was built in 1975.” If we turn this into an active voice, it will become “A development company built this building in 1975.”
Does it really matter who built this building? Probably not, unless someone has specifically asked for that information.
5. Don’t use words you don’t fully understand
Try to avoid complicated and cunning words, especially when you’re not sure what it means. You must know the words you use to avoid confusion. The best thing to do is look up the meaning of the word you want to use and try to search for a synonym that fits your content best.
What are the steps in writing?
Every writer follows their own writing process. The process is often a routine that comes to them naturally and is not a step-by-step guide. But for beginners who are unsure of how to start, having a step-by-step guide can be helpful.
Well then, here are the five basic steps to follow in writing:
Prewriting involves all necessary preparations before you start your rough draft.
It often involves finding your subject, building on it, or deciding on what subcategories to include within that subject, and planning the structure of your article.
After planning and making the prep, you can now proceed to write your first draft. This should be a free writing stage. Spill all your thoughts and facts about the subject and write them all. Don’t think of being too technical yet. You can work on adjustments and errors later.
After making your first draft, you can now refine your article. Many writers follow the ARRR approach, which is:
- Add: Consider your word count. Is it enough to meet the requirement? Have you given the readers enough information to understand the thought you’re trying to convey? If not, you should go back and add a few more details.
- Rearrange: Check the flow, pacing, and sequencing of your article. Try to see if the entire piece would have been better if you move some sections into a different order.
- Remove: After the additions you made earlier, it’s time to consider the deductions. Have you put too much information? This is the time to remove all the unnecessary bits that don’t fit the whole article.
- Replace: One great option when doing this step is to ask for a second opinion. Ask a friend or your senior writers to take a look and give you feedback, and if something isn’t working, rewrite it, and replace it.
You’ve now overhauled your article. Next is to refine it line by line.
Check for any spelling, repetition, punctuation, and grammatical errors. This can be a very detailed and time-consuming process. People who make books and novels sometimes hire editors to check their work for them.
But for beginners who want to write simple articles, you can try using online tools like Grammarly to check for any errors.
Once you’ve finished the editing and proofreading stage, you are now ready for publishing. You can submit it to a publishing company or upload it online and share it with the world.
What are the six traits of good writing?
Here are the six traits that determine how good one’s writing is:
- Ideas – This must be valuable and interesting.
- Organization – The entire composition should be logical and effective.
- Voice – This part should show your personality and the reader-writer connection.
- Word choice – The writer must use precise and colorful words that move and engage the reader.
- Conventions – This part shows the correctness in the element presented in your narrative like grammar, punctuations, vocabulary, etc.
- Sentence fluency – This is the flow of language, the word pattern, and its sound. Overall, it’s about how the writing appeals to the ear when read.